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GREGG COYLE  -  Work in Progress RATING:  ****
(Self produced) Reviewer: Ian Clarke

There may be only 5 tracks on Gregg Coyle's tentatively titled demo CD but it is enough to show the breadth of Gregg's considerable songwriting skill as well as showcase his vocal ability and versatile guitar technique. Budget production means that instrumentation is sparse but, while some additional ornamentation and a few solos would undoubtedly enhance the recording, there is a solid core to the songs which allows them to shine through with simple acoustic guitar, bass and drum arrangements with some keyboards (played mostly by Gregg himself).

Gregg's songs have great structure and his strong instinctive sense of rhythm carry the opener "Old Town", an R and B number about a sleazy town and sleazier intentions. The lyrics have a strong narrative edge - they don't follow the usual predictable phrasing patterns and the style bears similarities to Van Morrison, who presumably is an influence. Like most of Gregg's material it is catchy and accessible.

"Sleepy Head" bears all of the hallmarks of Seventies pop inspiration, Crosby Stills & Co harmonies (all the voices are Gregg's !) and structurally reminiscent of the best Brit pop of that era, perhaps The Kinks. It's the most upbeat track on the CD with it's major chord sequences and great pop potential.

"She Won't Come Back Again" sounds uncannily like a Simon & Garfunkel ballad with it's pleasing harmonies. The theme is resignation about the end of a relationship.

"Please Don't Go" is another sing-along pop song driven by vocal harmony refrain. It's another song on the theme of broken relationships and as a slight criticism is lyrically weak. There are just so many songs about this subject and it is almost impossible to say anything new and interesting. Unfortunately Gregg simply repeats old cliches "Don't go and break my heart" and "Leave me to fall apart". Even when it is personally felt, these professions of "lovesickness" sound trite and sentimental. I also find American grammatical expressions like "Don't you want me no more" a bit grating.

"Sayonara (Pat's Song)" is a lovely tribute to a deceased friend and mentor. Gregg's plaintive vocals are very affective on this closing number. He has an excellent ear for harmonic variations, a sharp clear voice and good range.

A very creditable production from a talented local songwriter and musician. The lyrics need some work but Gregg's material is of a high standard and has a definite commercial "groove" with plenty of beat. You find yourself humming them long after they've finished - always a good sign. The songs deserve to get air play and with the right breaks and a recording company willing to show a little faith, hopefully Gregg's work will progress a lot further.

"Work in Progress" by Gregg Coyle is available directly from the artist and is on sale at selected music stores including Downpatrick Music & Book Store or at Denvir's Hotel, Downpatrick.